JOHOR BARU, Feb 5 — The presence of the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar at a vegetarian luncheon in conjunction with the Thaipusam celebration at the Arulmigu Sri Balasubramaniar temple, Skudai here, demonstrates the practice of racial and cultural tolerance in the state.

State Health and Unity Committee chairman Ling Tian Soon said the guidelines issued by the Palace and the Johor Islamic Religious Council (MAINJ) were clear and he hoped that there would be no more confusion and speculation related to religious sentiments.

“As the head of Islam in the state, His Highness has attended the luncheon in conjunction with Thaipusam and this can be emulated by everyone,” he told reporters at the luncheon here today.

Last Friday, Sultan Ibrahim said that the fatwa (decree) prohibiting Muslims from attending and participating in religious rituals of other faiths in the state was in no way in conflict with interfaith values of tolerance, unity and understanding as espoused under the ‘Bangsa Johor’ concept.

Sultan Ibrahim has consented to the fatwa which was issued by MAINJ last Thursday.

Earlier, about 10,000 Hindus thronged the 50-year-old temple in conjunction with the Thaipusam celebration. — Bernama